Patrick Mahomes: The promising baseball pitcher who became the face of the NFL | CNN (2024)


He may be on the cusp of a second Super Bowl title and widely regarded as one of the most talented quarterbacks in NFL history, but a career in football wasn’t always on the cards for Patrick Mahomes.

Instead, it was baseball, the sport his father played professionally for 11 years, that was his first love. Unsurprisingly, he was pretty good at it.

Old video footage shows a young Mahomes running around stadiums with a baseball glued to his hand, dressed head-to-toe in whichever team’s gear his dad was playing for at the time – from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Mets.

That rare access to the world of elite sport was the foundation for Mahomes to develop into a phenomenal athlete and the ‘Showtime’ superstar he is today.

It was also on the diamond where he started developing his trademark monstrous right arm.

Patrick Mahomes: The promising baseball pitcher who became the face of the NFL | CNN (1)

A young Mahomes during New York Mets practice at Shea Stadium in 2000.

Sporting beginnings

Things started to get serious for Mahomes when he started high school with scouts paying attention to his sporting prowess – whether that be in baseball or football.

Ironically, it was baseball that always seemed to take center stage.

In 2014, while playing for Whitehouse High School, Mahomes showed his big league potential as a pitcher, striking out 16 in a no-hitter and generating reported speeds of 93mph, according to ESPN.

The path appeared set: Mahomes would continue the family tradition and follow his namesake into the MLB.

“I just remember him being so excited to go to the yard every day,” Mahomes Sr. told the New York Post, speaking about how he’d take his son to practice.

“I’d have to hold him back just so I could get in the car before we left because he was ready to get out there.

“And he’d get there to the clubhouse, get his uniform on, and he’d be one of the first guys out on the field, and of course, I had to play catch and all that.”

Patrick Mahomes: The promising baseball pitcher who became the face of the NFL | CNN (2)

Mahomes speaking to reporters in 2010.

But Mahomes’ story took a new direction during his college career.

Mahomes turned down an offer from the Detroit Tigers who had selected the youngster in the 37th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft, opting instead to join Texas Tech University.

It was there that the promising pitcher really started to morph into the formidable quarterback he is today.

Alongside his football commitments, Mahomes still found time for baseball. He even made one freshman appearance as a pitcher for the college team – albeit not a great one.

According to ESPN, Mahomes threw 15 pitches before being taken off in the game. Safe to say that it’s not one of his finest sporting achievements.

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“I came into the game, I walked the first guy, I believe,” Mahomes told reporters in the build up to Super Bowl LVII.

“I hit the second guy, gave him a double and they scored a run and then I got taken out of the game.

“I think I have an infinity ERA, which isn’t probably a good one. That’s not something I’m not very proud to have on my record.”

Thankfully for football fans, Mahomes’ baseball career never took off and it stopped entirely once he started getting serious about reaching the NFL.

Mahomes’ went 13-19 while playing for the Red Raiders and broke records during his time at Texas Tech – as a junior, he had four games with at least 500 passing yards.

In his final game, he threw for 586 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions against Baylor serving as a springboard to future success.

After showing his worth at the collegiate level, Mahomes was drafted by the Chiefs in 2017.

At the time, many franchises balked at picking the unorthodox quarterback, deeming him to be somewhat of a risk.

Turns out, it was a risk worth taking.

Gamble which paid off

Since being drafted, Mahomes has been named the league’s Most Valuable Player twice, won the Super Bowl and claimed the Super Bowl MVP trophy, as well as helping to transform the Chiefs into one of the league’s premier offensive juggernauts.

Now the face of the NFL, he’s on the verge of lifting the Lombardi Trophy again, with the Philadelphia Eagles standing in his way on February 12.

While Mahomes knows the elation of winning the Super Bowl, he also knows the crushing feeling that comes with falling at the final hurdle.

He was outperformed by Tom Brady in 2021 as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brushed aside the Chiefs at Super Bowl LV.

“This is the worst I’ve been beaten in a long time,” he told reporters after the game, before reverting back to those lessons learned during his childhood.

“My dad lost in the World Series and still continued to battle and be himself. Obviously, it hurts right now, but we will get better. We can’t let this define us.”

His reaction to the defeat is another example of Mahomes’ elite attitude. Throughout his career, it’s an attribute that’s been as dangerous to his opponents as his right arm.

After the defeat in 2021, Mahomes doubled-down and finished the current season as the league’s leader in passing yards (5,250) and touchdown throws (41).

Patrick Mahomes: The promising baseball pitcher who became the face of the NFL | CNN (4)

Mahomes celebrates after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

It seems like nothing can get in the way of Mahomes winning a second Super Bowl ring, not least his own body.

He once again showed his heart by playing through an ankle injury to lead his team to victories against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cincinnati Bengals in order to get to the final.

While he’s unlikely to be fully healthy for the Super Bowl, it would take a brave person not to play him on the biggest stage of all.

After all, Mahomes has a wealth of experience that he’s been desperate to share with his teammates.

“Just trying to give them a blueprint of how the week goes. Obviously, you can see it on the schedule, but I want them to see it from a player’s perspective,” Mahomes, mature beyond his years, told reporters ahead of the big game.

“The Super Bowl week is special, it’s a special week, but it’s not about being down there for the week of the Super Bowl, it’s about winning the game. I want guys to keep that at the front of their mind.

“Enjoy the whole entire week but make sure you’re prepared to go out there and play your best football as well.”

It’s been quite the ride for that young boy from Texas who was chasing his father around the baseball diamond.

Now, all those years later, the roles have reversed.

“My baby boy did what he always do,” Mahomes Sr. said from the field after watching his son lead the Chiefs to this year’s Super Bowl.

“You know he’s gonna show up and show out, and I’m just glad he did it.”

Patrick Mahomes: The promising baseball pitcher who became the face of the NFL | CNN (2024)
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